Transgender Confusion: Harm To Children And Strange Alliances

Mar 7th, 2020 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

The cultural and ethical confusion over the transgender phenomenon in western civilization is manifested in several ways.  For example, this confusion poses potential danger to children 12 and over through the use of puberty blocking drugs.  These are children who purportedly are suffering from “gender dysphoria”—the distress caused by feeling that one’s sex at birth and gender identity does not match.  [In the United Kingdom cases of gender dysphoria remain rare, but in the past decade they have climbed at a rate of 50%.  In America, the number of gender clinics treating children has increased from just one in 2017 to about 50 today.]  There is no medical test for gender dysphoria.  “Research suggests that most children who identify as the other sex eventually grow out of it.  They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.”  Puberty blockers were developed in the 1980s to treat premature puberty but have transformed transgender health since they were first used for that purpose in the late 1990s.  Puberty blockers have other side effects besides preventing breasts or beards: Over time, they can affect bone density and perhaps infertility.  The use of such drugs raises questions about who decides what can happen to a child’s body and why.  The transgender phenomenon has also produced some rather strange political/cultural alliances.  Each of these reflects an unwillingness to both understand and obey God’s creation ordinance, which defines the standards of both gender and human sexuality.

  • First, consider the potential danger to the growing use of puberty blocking drugs. “Puberty blocking drugs prevent adolescents from developing secondary sexual characteristics like breasts or a beard.  They almost always set off a cascade of interventions that involve ‘cross-sex’ hormones and later may also include gender-reassignment surgery.  The main purpose of puberty-blockers is to bring comfort to people with gender dysphoria . . . . However, the combination of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones also leads to irreversible changes which, if they start early in puberty, include sterility.”  Wisely, The Economist comments that “Choosing whom to treat is a judgment of Solomon.  The decision to intervene is made harder by a reckless disregard for data.  The academic studies purporting to show the higher suicide risk among trans children are unconvincing.  Clinics do not publish enough studies on the effects of various treatments on their patients.  Too little research compares children who have had treatment with those who have not.  The field needs a better understanding of the long-term effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.  Every child treated should be enrolled in a long-term follow-up study.”  This is a critical need because children and parents are not always fully informed about the potentially grave consequences of starting on puberty-blockers.  “Today’s rush into treatment smacks of a fad.”  Because of all this uncertainty, some states (e.g., South Dakota) are considering legislation to make it illegal to perform gender-reassignment surgery on children and to prevent puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormone treatments on children.  This confusion and uncertainty are perhaps most keenly felt by children. They are caught in the crossfire.  As The Economist argues, “It is bad enough that doctors, parents and gender-dysphoric children must make high-stakes choices against time without good evidence about what will happen.  Worse is that children’s plight is being used by adults as an opportunity for moral grandstanding.  The child’s interests depend not on the feelings of transgender activists, nor on those of feminists, but on facts that still need to be established.”
  • Second, consider the rather unusual alliance transgenderism is producing within American culture: Conservative Republicans and the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), which rejects the existence of transgender identity.  [These fringe activists argue that advancements in transgender rights will come at the expense of women’s rights and threaten the safety and sanctity of women-only spaces. They say women are defined not by their gender identity, but by their biology and by having “survived girlhood.”]  Journalist, Samantha Schmidt, reports on this emerging alliance.  “She introduced herself to a room full of conservative lawmakers as a bisexual woman, a longtime political progressive and the leader of a radical feminist organization.  Listening to Natasha Chart through a Skype call were more than a dozen South Dakota state representatives, most of them Republican, considering a bill to criminalize medical treatments for transgender children.  ‘Doctors shouldn’t help kids take out their sadness and anger on the only bodies we can ever have,’ she said in her testimony to South Dakota’s House State Affairs Committee on Jan. 22. ‘Please vote yes to forbid the sterilization of these young people.’  WoLF’s leaders have become frequent guests on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ and at Heritage Foundation events. The group received a $15,000 grant from the Alliance Defending Freedom to help fund a legal fight against the Obama administration over transgender bathroom policies. It also filed an amicus brief in one of the most consequential Supreme Court cases of the year, arguing that sex-based discrimination protections in the workplace should not apply to transgender people.  Now, WoLF is even helping shape legislation in places like South Dakota, which last month became the first state to advance a wave of state bills nationwide banning medical interventions for transgender youth. Kara Dansky, a WoLF board member from the District, plans to travel to South Dakota on Monday to testify in favor of the bill in a Senate committee hearing.”  For radical transgender activists, WoLF represents the acronym TERF, for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”

 

Schmidt reports that “The fight between radical feminists and transgender rights advocates began decades ago, amid the second-wave feminism of the 1970s.  Mary Daly, a self-described ‘radical lesbian feminist’ who taught at Boston College, argued that transgender women aren’t women, because ‘no male can assume female chromosomes and life history/experience.’ Her student, Janice Raymond, wrote the 1979 book The Transsexual Empire, pushing the belief that transgender women reinforce outdated gender stereotypes and pose a threat to gender equality.  WoLF supports abortion rights and combating violence against women. But the group’s recent work has overwhelmingly focused on fighting against the growing transgender rights movement.  ‘Gender identity is literally threatening to erase women and girls as a meaningful category … in language and in law,’ said Dansky, one of the group’s most vocal leaders. ‘We view that as an emergency.’”  [WoLF claims about 300 members nationwide, a group that Dansky said has grown steadily in recent years.]

 

Rejected by mainstream feminists, the group has increasingly found a home with conservative organizations. And what’s unusual is WoLF’s “willingness not just to sort of flirt with the right, but to full-on coalition,” said Nancy Whittier, a Smith College professor who specializes in gender and social movements.  WoLF began aligning itself with conservative groups in 2016, after the Obama administration released its “Dear Colleague” letter providing guidance for Title IX protections for transgender students in schools. WoLF filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, and later an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing a Virginia student’s right to use bathrooms that matched his gender identity.  Dansky appeared on Fox News and in a video on the website for the Family Policy Alliance arguing that the transgender bathroom policy would be harmful for girls and women. “How wrong does something have to be for a Christian pro-family organization and a self-described radical-feminist group to oppose it together at the Supreme Court?” the Family Policy Alliance website stated.  WoLF’s name also appears alongside conservative Christian groups in a “Parent Resource Guide” about “Responding to the Transgender Issue,” which has circulated among conservative parent groups across the country, even in increasingly liberal places such as Virginia’s Loudoun County.  “We expected authoritarianism from the right. We weren’t prepared for it from the left,” said Lierre Keith, one of WoLF’s founding members and a speaker on the event’s panel. “The most basic facts of biology are now considered a hate crime, which means the reality of women’s lives are back to being unspeakable.”

  • Because the transgender issue focuses on real people who have real struggles, this is a sensitive and very personal issue.  However, I believe what follows accurately summarizes what the Bible teaches:
  1. Maleness and femaleness are God’s choice, determined at conception.  But growing into one’s masculinity or femininity and embracing it can be thwarted by cultural and family developments.  It seems reasonable to conclude that gender identity is a developmental issue.
  2. It is certainly true that God desires that every male grow to masculinity and every female to femininity.  When that does not occur, the culture has developed labels such as transgendered and transsexual.  Regardless of the labels, God sees each individual as of worth and value because they bear His image—but as broken individuals.  As with every human being, the salvation offered in Jesus Christ heals the brokenness.
  3. As with every individual human being, our fundamental identity is in Jesus Christ.  Much of the postmodern world has focused on sex or gender as the primary aspect of personal identity.  But the Bible calls on us to identity with Jesus.  He is our core identity, regardless of whether we are male, female, transgender, etc.  Identity in Christ is a profound, transformative concept that results from placing our faith in Christ.
  4. It is certainly true that God intends for males to manifest masculine characteristics and females to manifest female characteristics.  The fact that some people are born with evidence of mutations in sex-determining genes does not impact their value and worth to God.  But the Bible is clear that men are to appear as men and women as women (see Deuteronomy 22:5).

 

See The Economist (18 November 2017), pp. 16, 51-53 and (1 February 2020), pp. 12, 21-22; Samantha Schmidt, “Conservatives find unlikely ally in fighting transgender rights: Radical feminists,” Washington Post (7 February 2020).

One Comment to “Transgender Confusion: Harm To Children And Strange Alliances”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    It is true that transgenderism is destroying feminism. Males identifying as females and participating in women’s sports are destroying meaningful women’s sports, for one example. Strange alliances, as you note, but understandable.

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